COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future – My New Strategy

network 2I have a confession to make……I do not have a professional networking strategy at all. To be honest, I had not given it a lot of thought until this class. Of course I have work connections, school connections and a half completed LinkedIn profile but I never gave them a lot of thought. After this class, I have a hard time believing I did not see the value to all of this before now. In reality, I think I saw the value; it just did not occur to me that it should be a strategy versus casual. I have been lucky to have mentor/coaching relationships in my professional life but it was never formal or strategic. However, I think this kind of long range planning and thinking can have a lot of value in expanding the possibilities of networking. Therefore, my first commitment is to develop a professional networking strategy.

My first priority is to finish and update my LinkedIn profile. It could definitely use some attention and could be more fully developed. I think this is a good place to start because in the digital world we live in people are looking for me online and I want to be in control of what they are finding. I had not considered that so many people would look me up before or after meeting me and the weight it would have in their opinion of me. Therefore, one of my plans for the future is to expand my profile to reflect all my past/current experience. I also want to ensure I reach out to all my possible connections.

My second priority is to foster my current relationships. I want to ensure the people who have been there for me over the years know the value they have added and the appreciation I have for them. In the idea of improving/building relationships I would also like to see who I can add to my inner circle. I would like to seek out new mentors and coaches that are doing some of the things I would like to work towards doing in the future. While online networking is a huge area of focus right now, I don’t want to lose sight of the importance of face to face contact.

networkMy third priority is to look for opportunities online or in person to practice networking and to build my professional network. These events could be social, educational or business events. The main goal is to become more comfortable especially at in person events. I have found these scenarios intimidating in the past but I have started to do some research to overcome those feelings. This includes ideas on how to make conversation, researching the speakers ahead of time, ways to add value, building an elevator speech and the importance of post meeting notes.

My fourth priority is to look for people I can mentor or coach. I have been very lucky over the years to have people take me under their wing and teach me important lessons that I use to this day. I think it is important to remember in networking that it is as much about what we are putting out as it is about what we are getting in return. I try to help others succeed the way I have been helped. I would like to formalize this in order to make it consistent instead of the sporadic way I use now.

I am very lucky to be working in an industry that I enjoy with a company that I love. I always thought of networking as being less planned and often used to change jobs. I am excited to use it to build connections and to be able to offer my support to others. I now see how it is important to stay current and connected. I look forward to putting my strategy in place and seeing where it takes me!
network 3

COM0015 – Blog #2: Strong and Weak Organizations

social-media-pathMore people than ever before are turning to social media and the internet when searching for an apartment.  They are craving information and tips to make the process smoother and less stressful.  Property managers and rental listings are starting to see the opportunity that comes from being part of this conversation from the beginning.  There are few property management companies and rental listing companies out their taking full advantage of this opportunity.  Two that stand out as doing this right are RentSeeker.ca and the CLV Group.

rslRentSeeker.ca has developed into being a known industry leader through their social media interactions.  They are Canada’s #1 – Online Apartment Finder & Real Estate Marketing Company.  They are an interesting example because they see the value of engaging prospective residents and being part of their solution during the stressful process of moving.  They have also created a niche in helping property management companies develop their online presence as well.  In terms of helping a prospect, they have a strong presence on most social media channels and they have a very user friendly website.  If a prospect is looking for an apartment they do not need to look far before finding an answer with RentSeeker.ca.  RentSeeker.ca also shares valuable tips, articles and news on all things related to renting on their social media channels.  They provide these updates daily which increases their visibility.  Their content is interesting and varies from decorating tips to infographics about the cost of renting across the country.  This has led to their social media followings being in the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.  Rentseeker.ca has been referenced in articles and news stories as an industry leader by various news sources including, Huffington Post, CTV, CBC and the Ottawa Citizen to name a few.  All of these factors have built a brand that makes RentSeeker.ca a company that prospective renters and property managers trust.  RentSeeker.ca has become a one stop shop for property managers that want to increase their visibility online.  They will list your available suites, build you a website rich with keywords (great for search engine optimization), create 3D floorplans, shoot property videos and even manage your social media accounts.  For a property management company they provide all the answers that allow you to be successful in this new digital world.

clv-group-logoThe CLV Group has a slogan that says it all, “NOW YOU’RE HOME.”  It is one of the first things you read on their website after seeing beautiful photos of their properties.  As they say it best, “They are just three small words, but together they mean so much. It’s the feeling you get from the moment you start your apartment search to the moment you step foot onto one of our quality properties.”  CLV is aware of the stress that usually surrounds looking for a new place and they want to make a prospect feel at ease immediately when they land on their website.  They want the prospect to feel like the search is over.  This is consistent with the marketing message that CLV uses throughout their website and social media channels.  They aim to create this same feeling of the search being over and the prospect being home.  CLV provides reassurance to the prospect through a consistent message that creates a community feel and a feeling that they care about each of their residents.  They stress the importance of things like 24 hours a day, every day, service and provide examples through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of what it is like to live there.  They use their website to also show the upgraded suites they offer for reasonable prices in any area you may want to live.  CLV has also advertised contests for their residents on their social media channels.  These contests include a picture contest for Father’s Day and a Colouring Contest for the kids living in their buildings.  They will also advertise how pet friendly they are and back that up with social media posts introducing some of their favourite resident pets.  CLV is very active in their community and often share their participation on their social media channels.  Recent examples of their community involvement include yoga on Parliament Hill, the Dragon Boat Festival and Hope Beach Volleyball.  The goal for CLV is to create a brand that sells itself as the perfect place for anyone to call home and to show themselves as a company that truly cares.  Based on what I have monitored they are doing a great job!

mintoAs more property management groups increase their online presence, it will become the expectation not the exception.  A company that could use a new social media campaign would be Minto.  Minto is a large property management company with rentals in Ottawa, Toronto, London and Brampton just to name a few.  However, they have a very soft online presence in comparison to some of their competitors.  It is important for them to be proactive so they can get ahead of the competition.  Minto needs to develop an audience before they are competing for the same audience with their competitors.  The good news is that Minto does have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  However, they are not consistent in their postings and their accounts have not seen any recent posts since May (Pinterest) or June (Facebook/Twitter).  Minto would benefit from going back to the basics and building their online audience.  By creating an online presence people trust, they will be able to increase their brand awareness and loyalty.  By doing this overtime, they will benefit from more people wanting to live there and those that live there wanting to stay.  (An important side note, this only is true if the image you portray online is in line with who you are as a company.)  My recommendations for Minto would include:

  • Develop a listening strategy and do some research.
    • Identify key players in the industry.
    • Identify competition offering the same services.
    • Identify what your user needs, what does your user want help in?
  • Build brand awareness.
    • Look at current social media involvement.  What has worked well?  What could be improved?
    • Create a blog on the Minto website and share articles through Facebook and Twitter.
    • Update content on Pinterest.
    • Consider Instagram and the value it could provide in sharing “Day in the Life of a Minto Resident” type of content.
  • Create a content strategy.
    • Develop solid content for the blog; add a blog weekly at minimum.
    • Post to Twitter and Facebook more frequently.
    • Post to Pinterest and Instagram immediately to develop content.
    • Continue to develop video presence through YouTube.
  • Set measurable goals.
    • How will Minto measure success?  Set goals to know your efforts are paying off.  Examples could be increase followings on social media channels or to drive traffic.  Keep in mind social media will help develop things like brand awareness and brand loyalty which can be hard to measure but is also very valuable.

In property management, we ask people to make a huge commitment and investment.  We ask them to trust us that we will provide a home they will love and feel safe in.  Social media gives us the tools we need to gain that trust and to show our prospects what it will be like to live with us.  We live in a world where customers are coming to expect their businesses to have an online presence.  People want to be able to make purchasing decisions all hours of the day, anywhere their mobile coverage allows.  It is important that businesses realize the expectations of their customers are changing.  Social media is no longer optional if you want to compete in today’s market.

social media comparison chart

Com0014 – Post 5 – Personal Brand

What is my brand?

I am a creative communications expert who has a broad range of experience designing and implementing programs for organizations to help them develop and deliver stronger messages in support of their strategic goals.

What are my unique selling points?

I combine hands-on experience gained by delivering communications and marketing solutions to a variety of small and large organizations at both the operational and strategic level. I exhibit organizational know-how and leadership when working with clients, staff, Boards of Directors, government representatives and stakeholders. I keep abreast of new methods most recently adding expertise in social media. I have developed a network of professionals with whom I work to bring excellence and creativity to almost any job. 

What have I done lately to make yourself stand out?

I am completing a diploma in social media. I have built a new website and blog for my consultancy. I believe that my blog has “expert” content and will help grow my community of supporters. I am currently amplifying the content of these two platforms on selected social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in order to reach my target audiences.

My next endeavor is to create a marketing plan to promote my services and identify ways to take advantages of the opportunities detailed above and counter the potential threats to my marketing success. I will include a social listening and content strategy as part of that plan.

What do you do that you are most proud of?

My colleagues and friends say that I consistently demonstrate creativity, organizational know-how, problem solving and good judgement at work and in my private life. What I am most proud of is to create and implement comprehensive communication programs for organizations that had never really had any plans promoting what they do and what they stand for. Seeing them grow and glowing in success makes me very proud of the work I do and of the people I have done it with.

 

 

ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication, Post 5 – Personal Brand by Karen Cooper

ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication
Post 5 – Personal Brand by Karen Cooper
Instructor: Nelly Leonidis

For my fifth blog post in the online course, “Digital Communication,”  in Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate part-time online program the assigned topic centers around describing my personal brand by answering the following questions:

What are the personal qualities and characteristics that set me apart from my design and photography competitors?

My artistic ability and talent are applied through a plethora of software skills and techniques in print, web design, and multimedia projects that evoke emotion with powerful imagery. What I do that is remarkable, measurable, distinguished, and distinctive in value, is that I pass along my knowledge to inspire students through software training to create their own projects, in addition, to designing, developing, and delivering creative projects for my clients.

What have I done lately to make myself stand out?

I’ve enrolled in social media courses at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology to learn how to enhance my online presence through the art of social media and to understand how best to stay up to date with technology.

What would your colleagues say is my best trait?

Listening skills: I listen well so I can fully grasp what clients want to see, being open to change, hearing all criticism with an open mind, willing to change designs or photographs based on the needs or wants of a client.

Technologically apt: I’m enthusiastic and quick to learn new software programs, to incorporate them into my work. One of my favourite things to do is to learn new software techniques on Adobe TV, my favourite channels are; Photoshop, LightRoom, InDesign, Premiere, Fireworks, and Illustrator.

What do I do that I’m most proud of?

I’m most proud of my ability to relay what I see in my mind’s eye into digital imagery, thanks to my education in photography, journalism, multimedia design, and social media at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology.

BookCover

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study – CLV Group – Now You’re Home!

clv-group-logo

IMG_5873-e1438269023309Based out of Ottawa, Canada CLV Group, Inc. is one of the largest property management companies in Ottawa with properties spanning from East to West, including downtown, Barrhaven and Kanata.  CLV also has properties in Gatineau, Montreal, Belleville, Kingston, Trenton and the GTA.  Their portfolio consists of 8000 suites and ranges from high rise, to low rise to townhomes.  As they proudly announce on their website, “for over 45 years CLV Group has been helping renters and home owners find the perfect place to call home.”  Outside of property management CLV Group, Inc. is also involved in residential and commercial real estate, financial services and construction and development.  They have the market covered on all things real estate.

CD3S2sKWgAAFfQ3CLV has a slogan that says it all, “NOW YOU’RE HOME.”  It is one of the first things you read on their website after seeing beautiful photos of their properties.  As they say it best, “They are just three small words, but together they mean so much. It’s the feeling you get from the moment you start your apartment search to the moment you step foot onto one of our quality properties.”  CLV is aware of the stress that usually surrounds looking for a new place and they want to make a prospect feel at ease immediately when they land on their website.  They want the prospect to feel like the search is over.

boysandgirlsontario

The marketing message that CLV uses through their website and social media aims to create this same feeling of the search being over and the prospect being home.  They provide reassurance to the prospect through a consistent message that creates a community feel and a feeling that they care about each of their residents.  They stress the importance of things like 24 hours a day, every day, service and provide examples through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of what it is like to live there.  They use their website to also show the upgraded suites they offer for reasonable prices in any area you may want to live.  The goal for CLV is to create a brand that sells itself as the perfect place for anyone to call home and based on what I have monitored they are doing a great job!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clvgroup

Twitter https://twitter.com/clvgroup

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/clvgroup/

Instagram https://instagram.com/clvgroup/

Blog http://blog.clvgroup.com/

LIV-Promo233x176-Summer-PromoCanaday-Day-from-CLV-Group-e1435697359198

Blog Assignment #1 (COM0011) Post #6: LinkedIn Etiquette: 5 Ways to Improve Your Virtual Imaga

unwritten rulesLinkedIn is a great professional networking, skills building and job portal. With more than 300 million active users and a wealth of resources to maximize your profile, LinkedIn is a ‘must’ for today’s professional.

Whether you’ve been using LinkedIn for years or just starting to consider opening an account – this blog post is for you! Project the right professional image by following these 5 simple rules:

1.  Choose the Right Profile Photo

Research shows that having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others. Keep your photo clean, up-to-date and professional. This isn’t a dating site and nobody wants to see you cuddling with a cat. Of course, if you’re a pet groomer, that’s a different story…

2.  Personalize Networking Invitations

Would you like if someone barged into your office yelling ‘Here I Am!’ and then quickly walking away? Probably not. But that’s exactly what so many of us do on LinkedIn. It’s important to personalize connection requests – especially to strangers – and avoid sending default messages. By personalizing messages, you have a better chance of connecting with people and starting a conversation. On the other hand, when you send out blank invitations to connect, there’s a much greater chance recipients will click the “Report Spam” or “I Don’t Know This Person” button. Too many complaints will get you tossed into LinkedIn Jail!

3.  Quality Over Quantity

LinkedIn is about building and maintaining legitimate professional relationships. Be strategic about who you add to your network. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, having a solid LinkedIn network is not about how many friends or followers you have but about the quality of your network, the value they can bring to your professional development and vice versa. That said, don’t under-estimate the value of connections outside of your industry. You never know who can introduce you to your next big opportunity!

4.  Asking for Recommendations

LinkedIn’s recommendations feature is a powerful tool to showcase how your work is valued and endorsed by influential people. Again, quality far outweighs quantity. Avoid generic and mass recommendation requests or providing a deadline. Only ask for recommendations from people you’ve worked directly with or who have very positive experiences with your products or services. Another great idea is to write recommendations for others (e.g. vendors, ex-customers, colleagues, etc. so long as they are 1st degree connections.) LinkedIn will automatically prompt them to return the favor and write a recommendation for you.

5. Be Positive! Participating in Group Discussions

LinkedIn groups are a great place to share your thoughts, gain insight into sector topics and make new connections. It’s okay to challenge assumptions and be critical of things you don’t agree with, but it’s also important to be respectful of group members, focus on constructive criticism and celebrate good ideas. Put your best foot forward by sharing your experiences and showcasing your expertise in a positive way.

etiquette

Do you have any other do’s or don’ts for LinkedIn users?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

COM0014 – Blog 5 – Personal Brand

One of things that I decided on in regards to my personal brand is being as authentic as possible with all areas of my life. That was around the same time I opened up my Facebook account to accept connections beyond family and close friends.

These new connections were part of Facebook groups I had joined, networking clubs I have attended, events I have attended, connections still to meet in person, and connections associated with Social Media.

Some of my personal qualities and characteristics shine through in every post. It’s my interests, my joys in life and living that shine through. I post graphics that I create, that are positive and motivational. These graphics are designed to brighten up people’s days, like in the case below.

Be Love

I posted the above graphic on one of the groups I am part of on Facebook and to my timeline. That post alone yielded 21 likes and one comment.

Some of the graphics are created to celebrate and share my life as well, as in the case of the next graphic posted to my timeline.

hearts 5

I added the following note to the graphic post:

It’s official – I am registered for the Fall at Algonquin College!! Recently finished 2 courses with wonderful grades (pat on the back) in the Social Media Certificate Program! Now onwards to the next two courses!! #excited #AlgonquinCollege #SocialMedia

The feedback from this post shocked me and taught me the power of allowing connections be part of life events. It yielded 46 likes and 26 comments including a Social Media notable commenting as well on the post.

As I develop my brand, I have found recently the perfect graphic to depict how I want to come across to my audience. I found this graphic a couple weeks ago and resonated with it so much that it’s becoming part of how I determine what to post every day.

before-think-speak-large

The things I am most proud of are my motivational graphics and sharing enthusiasm. It has made my timeline shine in ways that actually make Social Media fun. Due to my attention to what I enjoy sharing, connecting with people has become a true joy. Thus my brand is me!

Reference:

“Think” Graphic found on www.mindbodygreen.com

COM0011 – Post #4 – WestJet’s “Hairy” Dress Code Debate

The age old debate about dress code has come again, but in this case, I find it very intriguing. To ask the question of company branding, versus an employee’s right to self-expression is always intriguing. In this particular case, a woman decided to quit her job at WestJet because they asked her to have a more natural hair style. She has a short, spikey hairdo with brown and blond colouring.

WestJet Employee

Janet Moore’s “Unnatural” Hairdo for WestJet Standards

 

I guess, for starters, I am surprised that they considered this to be an unacceptable hairstyle. I thought this was a fashionable and trendy hairdo, as opposed to a “punky” look. If, perhaps, there were unnatural colours, such as green and purple, then I would understand their concerns a bit more.

It is important to note that the company did not fire her, but rather asked to work with her to find a hairstyle that is more natural. She quit, because she felt offended, particularly as she always had this hairstyle, and was even interviewed and hired with this hairdo. At the same time, WestJet’s dress and appearance code also never changed since she was hired. “The company’s staff manual calls for employees to have natural looking nails, free of colourful polish, as well as natural looking hair colour.”

At the risk of sounding ageist, if I were 64 years old, even if I loved my job, I may also quit rather than give in, since I would be so close to retirement age (but that is also making the assumption that she planned on retiring at 65 years old). At the same time, going to the news about this, is, I suppose, her way of fighting it. Even if it does not benefit her, it may benefit others like her who still work for WestJet. After all, other companies have changed dress policies to be more relaxed. Even Starbucks now allows its employees to have visible tattoos (except for face and throat), which was previously against its appearance code.

On the branding side, WestJet is trying to build its image for an upcoming uniform change in 2015. With having new uniforms that match their branding, they are trying to re-emphasize the dress code to its employees.

So, I am going to throw it out there, knowing fully well that this is a very sensitive topic: Do you think that WestJet was justified in requesting this physical change from its employee?

(More information can be found in the CTV video and article: http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/branding-or-discrimination-employee-quits-after-westjet-asks-her-to-change-hair-1.2074880)

 

 

COMM 0015 – Blog Post #1: What social media platforms are the most useful to you?

New social media platforms pop-up all the time and I am constantly exploring what I can use to get the most current and credible information available. While I do have many avenues for where I find information, (mainly online but print as well, I’m still holding out), there are two social media platforms I visit regularly.

Currently, my organization’s Twitter feed is the best source to find out what our community is talking about. People post curtwitter_wallpaperrent events, trending topics and links to what they find interesting. Since SIRC is an avenue for the sport community to communicate with each other, Twitter is a valuable resource for determining future content for blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn posts. Obviously, Twitter does not always deliver quality content, but it can definitely be a good jumping off point for discovering new topics. Knowing your audience is key in engaging and delivering the content people want to read and share, and Twitter delivers a very intimate insight into who you followers are and what they would like to see.

LinkedIn creates a different sort of value for an organization or your own personal brand. I’m still familiarizing myself with LinkedIn, but since I opened an account, I’ve been using it almost everyday. I love how customizable it is, the job posts and news feed are often populated with content I enjoy reading. From my initial observations, I’ve noticed that many of our partner’s don’t use this tool as effectively as they might, my company included. It is my goal for our company to blaze a path, so to speak, by creating and sharing good content through our LinkedIn page. One of the main ideas for this is to get guest writers – leaders in the sport community – to contribute content specifically geared for professional development which will add credibility and appeal to what we are already sharing.Social-Media-300x300

I’m assuming most people use LinkedIn as a place to look for or post jobs, but I see the site as growing into so much more than that. I really enjoy the news feed, many of the posts are directly related to professional development or are curated from the internet to appeal to their audience. With the ability to like, comment, and share articles, a company or individual can increase their reach in a very easy and informal way.

RSS feeds, online newspapers and magazines, newsletters and some of our partner’s company blog posts are also very useful for gaining insight into current trends and topics.  Do you use LinkedIn or Twitter? How do you use them and do you find them effective?

COMM0015- Strong & Weak- Who Comes Out on Top?

strong-vs-weak1When I think of social media and what companies are kicking butt right now, a few come to mind. The first organization that stands out to me, and I hate to say it is Rogers. As a company, I despise them but when interacting with them on social media, they have been professional, prompt and helpful. They have the capacity to have what I am assuming is a department of individuals managing their social media as their full time job. I give Rogers credit because they have a tough crowd. They are prone to extreme negativity from customers, especially when their technology is not working properly. Those poor people on social spending hours responding to brutal messages from customers, I give them kudos for having a strategy and sticking with it. They are doing everything right social-wise, it is just the business they are in that doesn’t make it seem as obviously effective as other organizations.

The second organization that has stood out to me over the past few months is Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest. This year they really ramped up their social strategy incorporating all different types of media. They focused on short, entertaining videos, interactive contests and capitalized on promotional opportunities. They are proof that a good social strategy does work. I watched their number of Twitter followers more than triple, along with Facebook fans, YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers. They did it all and they did it right. The proof is in the pudding when you find yourself visiting their social pages to see what new and interesting posts they are sharing.

On the alternate side, today I came across an organization that made me go “uh oh they sure are behind the 8 ball on social media.” This company is the Hide House in Acton. You may have heard of them through their tagline “It’s worth the drive to Acton” but they have re-branded without a social strategy which is a huge missed opportunity. It all began when I attempted to look them up on Twitter. I didn’t know they had re-branded and wanted to tag them in a post. After quite a bit of searching, I finally found them and low and behold they had 4 followers and only a couple of automated posts generated by Facebook. Their Facebook page is mediocre at best and this is about it for their social strategy.

Even if they weren’t going through re-branding, I still believe they are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity by not effectively using social media tools and techniques. They can’t go back now but moving forward they should set objectives to build their following on both Twitter and Facebook through providing frequent and consistent updates around both their product and their brand. Bottom line is, they need to start the conversation and reach out to their clients, of which they have many. Their old brand is strong and they are known for their high-end products but they are being forgotten about. They need to capitalize on their new brand and reconnect with their customers. What better way to do that than through social media?

*above image from: http://lumeschannel.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/weak-and-strong-sustainability/